Former soccer star David Bentley develops a taste for the GAA

David Bentley is being put through his paces at Crossmaglen Rangers

FORMER England player David Bentley swapped the luxury lifestyle of a Premier league footballer for a GAA match in rainy south Armagh last night.

The 30-year-old, who now lives in the Spanish resort of Marbella, experienced slightly wetter and colder conditions than he is accustomed to when he lined up for Crossmaglen Rangers.

Sporting the number 11 jersey, the former Spurs player joined the hugely successful Armagh club for one match only, as part of a cross-code experiment for a TV programme.

His Gaelic counterpart, Crossma-glen footballer Aaron Kernan, will train with Premier League side Sunderland for the TV3 documentary.

Crossmaglen played against Silver-bridge GAA in the match.

A good-natured crowd of at least 300 spectators, including many young children on their half-term break, turned out to see the soccer star play under floodlights at Silver-bridge's ground.

One man joked that he had "never seen so much interest in an Englishman playing Gaelic", while another noted that the soccer player had caught the eye of several young female spectators.

A distinctive figure on the pitch, Bentley managed to score two points by half-time.

He coped well with the wet and windy conditions and waved happily to the crowd after scoring his first point.

Nicholas Traynor, Silverbridge's treasurer, said he was "delighted" that Bentley was playing at the club's ground.

"He's after getting two points, which is two points too many in my book," he joked at half-time.

Bentley had already got a taste of Gaelic games during two nights of training with Crossmaglen earlier this week.

He was said to be "a bit sore" after his last training session, which saw him attempting to master a hand pass and a solo.

The former international, who retired from football last year citing his loss of passion for the sport, is one of the participants in a new TV3 documentary called The Toughest Trade.

As part of the unusual swap, Bentley also did some work at the Kernan family's estate agency business - Kernan Property Services.

The TV3 programme - linked to the AIB All-Ireland Club championship - aims to compare the lives of amateur Gaelic players with professional athletes.

Kilkenny hurler Jackie Tyrell is also taking part in the show.

He will train and play with a Major League Baseball team in Florida as part of a swap with former catcher Brian Schneider.


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